Derry soccer star James McClean says he wants to win many more Ireland caps after making his Euro 2012 debut during Thursday’s game against Spain.
The former Derry City winger came on late into the 4-0 defeat to the reigning World and European champions - and now the calls for his inclusion in Ireland’s line- up to take on Italy tomorrow night Ireland’s final game of the championships is getting louder.
“We have one more game against Italy left and we want to do well for ourselves and go home with some pride and hopefully I can play a part in that,” McClean says.
“To make my competitive debut at the Euros against Spain is something you dream about.
“We are obviously disappointed but they aren’t World and European championship for nothing and because of that I don’t think we should beat ourselves up too much.”
The 23-year old Creggan man says he was astounded by how Irish fans greeted his late appearance.
“It was absolutely tremendous. It gives me a huge amount of confidence.
“Our fans have been a great throughout the competition and they are a huge credit.”
He also says he was inundated with calls and texts from his home city.
“It’s obviously and honour to represent to your country, but to know that you have that support behind you from your home town is overwhelming.”
Former Ireland captain Roy Keane says manager Giovanni Trapattoni has nothing to lose by throwing McClean and fellow Derry man Darron Gibson into the mix for the Italy game.
“The manager will have to look at it,” the former skipper says.
“We have one or two good young players coming through – we do not have 10 or 20, but we have the boy McClean and maybe Darron Gibson should be given a chance in the middle of the park.”
Another ex Irish star Matt Holland says it’s vital the next generation of Irish stars are allowed to gain big tournament experience.
“I’m lost for words [that McClean wasn’t given more of a chance],” said Holland. “James McClean got a run and he might get another one against Italy. That is the future now.
“Some of these boys won’t be around for the next campaign so it is important that those boys get some experience and they’ll be better for it.”
‘Sunday Journal’ reporter Andrew Quinn is in Poland following the team. He says supporters want to see both Derry men in the line up for tomorrow night’s game.
“We were completely outplayed by Spain,” he says.
“But it was great to see James McClean get such a great reception from the Irish fans. Fingers crossed Trapattoni will throw caution to the wind and include both James and Darron Gibson against the Italians. It’s definitely what the fans out here want to see.”
Ireland face the Italians tomorrow evening with their exit from Euro 2012 already confirmed following defeats by Croatia and Spain.